WHEN I was a teen-ager I saw the movie The Red Shoes at least seven times. There are portions that I can still recall. For instance, as I remember it, when Victoria Page - the prima ballerina - is anguishing with fright just before the curtain goes up on her first major performance, she gasps to the impresario, ''I can't even remember my first entrance.'' He hums a few bars of the music. She smiles in relief. ''Yes, yes, that's it. I'm all right when I hear the music.'' The impresario teases, and reassures her, ''Since undoubtedly you will be hearing the music . . . ,'' and walks off, leaving her to a magnificent debut.
I've thought often about this scene. In fact I've translated it in a way that has helped me pretty regularly through a number of lesser and larger ''performances'' - important job interviews, for example, or dealing with demanding social situations. Yet the translation I want mainly to talk about has to do with the language of spiritual things. It occurred to me that in much the way a dancer listens and moves, queued by the music, we can think of ourselves as moving in cadence with God's care and control. For my translation I equate ''hearing the music'' with ''hearing God's direction.''
Man, as God created him, is His child, governed by Him alone. It's natural, then, for us to listen for and rely on the things of Spirit. As we carry out the designs of our kaleidoscopic days and professional demands, it's possible, and practical, to trust that ''undoubtedly'' we always can hear (and see and feel) God's love and wisdom.
Psalm 139 brings out the closeness of God and man: ''O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . . For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?'' n1
n1 Psalms 139:1,4,7.
The Bible shows a wide range of lives enlightened, and spiritually centered, through the acknowledgment of God's ways and trust in His presence. Abraham and Moses, Jacob and Joseph, listened for God's voice and went forward - sometimes through very frightening mental and physical territory - confident that they would be able to ''perform'' because He was with them.
When I was expecting our first child, my husband was sent overseas on military duty. The country he was assigned to seemed very foreign to me; I knew nothing of its history, culture, or predominant religion. I wanted very much to be with my husband, yet the thought of traveling halfway around the world when six months pregnant, and then giving birth in a foreign environment, was scary.
Often when there are decisions to be made, I read the Bible. One of the passages that reassured me during this decisionmaking period is in Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: ''Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'' n2 As I prayed more, I began to feel that this promise would be true no matter what country I happened to live in. There could never be any circumstance or time frame where I would not be able to hear God, or where my needs (and my baby's, and my husband's) would not be taken care of.
n2 Matthew 7:7.
Another thought that gave me courage is in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She says, ''God is All-in-all.'' And further, ''He is all the Life and Mind there is or can be. Within Himself is every embodiment of Life and Mind.'' And a few lines down: ''Now this self-same God is our helper. He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers. He is near to them who adore Him.'' n3
n3 Unity of Good, pp. 3-4
It was as if some impresario were telling me that my ''performance'' would be perfectly all right, since undoubtedly I would always be hearing God's voice. All the details of the decision, including securing civilian housing, travel plans, and the baby's eventual and happy delivery, were neatly and cheerfully accomplished. Looking back over the entire overseas tour, I credit the expectancy of good, the warm friends and creative times that characterized those days, to the basic conviction that God, Spirit, was with us. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all His works. . . The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear thier cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth them tat love him. Psalms 145:9, 18, 19, 20